Hood feminism, Ego Ella May, basic-American-girl in Paris, and more.

Digest #17 - October 8th 2020

Hood feminism, Ego Ella May, basic-American-girl in Paris, and more.
The Seven - A weekly digest by Keeya-Lee Ayre

Digest #17, October 8th 2020

Hello my wonderful readers!

I'm writing to you today from a lakeside cabin in North Carolina, sipping prosecco in the sunshine. This is the first holiday I've had all year, and it was long overdue.

Last week, I made an ambitious statement and told you I'd send this week's digest on Sunday. Given that it is now Thursday, that clearly didn't pan out. The Seven is something I pour a lot of time and love into, and I try to ensure it is always a very balanced and diverse list of recommendations. This means time is taken not just writing, but also mindfully consuming new content every week. To this end, I have realized it is counter-productive to commit to sharing on a specific day of the week. Please know this digest will always come approximately once a week, but the exact timing may remain a mystery to both you and me up until the moment I hit send.

This week, the October book giveaway is live, the public archive of digests has been updated through to August 2nd, and I've launched a new feature: submit your recommendation. If you have anything interesting you'd like to share, please fill in this form, and you may see it end up in a future digest! If I feature your recommendation, I'll thank you by name and link to whichever website or social platform you prefer.

Happy reading.


One

My wonderful friend KaM (who also reviews each of these digests) recommended Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall to me back in July, and I just finished it. It is a brilliant book that I now consider mandatory reading for everyone who claims to be concerned with feminism, and social justice. Especially white women. A number of Mikki's views won't be new to Black or intersectional feminists (regardless of whether or not you embrace the term), but there is a special power in words being given to ideas and seeing them laid out so clearly. This book powerfully articulates some of the reasons why many Black women feel like they aren't embraced by mainstream feminism. The entire book is full of quotes I know I'll be reeling off verbally for years to come.


“One of the biggest issues with mainstream feminist writing has been the way the idea of what constitutes a feminist issue is framed. We rarely talk about basic needs as a feminist issue. Food insecurity and access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, a living wage, and medical care are all feminist issues. Instead of a framework that focuses on helping women get basic needs met, all too often the focus is not on survival but on increasing privilege. For a movement that is meant to represent all women, it often centers on those who already have most of their needs met.”

If your feminism focuses on 'all women', but doesn't directly consider the roles that race and class play in other women's lives, you need this book. If you think racism should be discussed separately to women's issues, you need this book. If you count women's progress based on the number of CEOs there are, without being concerned about whether other women are simply able to survive in the world, you need this book.

It's already quote-mania, but here are three more from the introduction that were so good I had to write them each down.

“We all have to engage with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be, and that makes the idealized feminism that focuses on the concerns of those with the most the providence of the privileged.” (xiv)

“No problem like racism, misogynoir, or homophobia ever went away because everyone ignored it.” (xvi)

“Erasure is not equality, least of all in a movement that draws much of its strength from the claim that it represents over half of the world’s population.” (xvi)

Because (if you hadn't noticed) I really want you to read this book, I'm giving away two copies this month in the October book giveaway. All subscribers can enter, and the books will ship for free to anywhere in the world.

My own copy of the book.

Two

Ego Ella May is a songwriter vocalist from South London whose neo-soul tunes are so obscenely good that it feels unjust that everyone doesn't already know her name. The music video for her song "Tonight I'm Drowning" premiered in August, and is as elegant and beautiful as the song itself. Big thanks to my lovely best friend Sarah for sharing! I feel warmer and fuller with her music in my life. Her Instagram is also stunning, her entire album Honey for Wounds is bliss, and her live radio show with Daniel Oduntan was brilliant. It's a rabbit hole of content I'm glad to have slid into, come join me.

A screenshot from the video.

Three

Emily in Paris is a new Netflix show about an American girl named Emily who goes to France for work. She can't speak French, doesn't understand the culture, and is just generally a caricature encountering a billion reductive Parisian stereotypes. It's by Darren Star (creator of Sex and the City) so you know it brings those basic white girl, aspirational-glamor vibes. This isn't something I'm at all above. It's really stupid but it's fun, and I've been waiting for a stupid show with gorgeous clothes and silly romance plot lines for ages. Perhaps ever since Gossip Girl ended back in 2012. I also love Lilly Collins, who stars as Emily. The most implausible elements are how someone with only 48 Instagram followers is somehow a social media aficionado, and how her selfies with dumb captions while holding pain au chocolat suddenly make her a viral sensation... but if you can get past this, you might enjoy it like I am. This show is nothing like real Paris, with all its diversity and visceral depth. It's what a 23-year-old marketing executive from Chicago would think Paris was, based on watching a bunch of movies in her childhood and looking at the paid posts of travel influencers. Think of it in only those terms and you might laugh along with it, as well as at it. Not everything has to be deep.

Emily wearing a beret at a cafe because of course she is. Screenshot from Netflix.

Four

Pan's Labyrinth (El laberinto del fauno) is a spellbinding 2006 film, set in Spain in 1944, that combines a wartime story with a fantastical fairytale. Both of these are made more unique by being experienced through the eyes of a child. It somehow maintains an air innocence and magic, while fundamentally being extremely dark, with many violent scenes. I first watched it as a teenager in 2007. At that time, while I enjoyed the special effects and the plot, I didn't wholly comprehend the layered brilliance of its handling of historical realism. Alex and I rewatched it recently, and I appreciated its beauty in an entirely new way. If you haven't seen it, add it to your list. If it's been a while, it might be time for a rewatch!

The film's theatrical release poster.

Five

This tuscan prawn dish with sun-dried tomatoes, basil, garlic, butter and cream is heavnly. It's one of those recipes that just works - everything works together in perfect palatable harmony. I love to serve it with wedges of lemon so people can up their citrus ante on demand. I also like to use whole prawns because they create a lot of delicious stocky goodness that rounds out the sauce, but this is a wholly unpopular decision with my family members who do not want to have to 'do extra work' while eating
(cough, Alex). Served on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes, this indulgent meal always seems decadent and impressive, even though it's a super easy one to whip together.

Photo of the dish from Salt & Lavender.

Six

I'm on holiday and food is on my mind in a big way, so I'm giving you a second recipe! This is my go to never-fail recipe for healthy-ish banana bread, with big ooey chunks of banana and honey or maple syrup as the sweetener (depending on what we have on hand). Like all my favorite recipes, this Cookie + Kate link is a base that you can customise how you see fit, and helpful notes are thrown in to allow you to make it your own. Want to use a substitute flour, a handful of pecans, something really whacky like rosewater? Just do it, and figure out what works for you. I'm actually really vibing this rosewater idea now... let's see how that goes. Probably not well, but nothing incredible was ever achieved without taking risks in this life ;)

A photo from Cookie + Kate.

Seven

I've watched this compilation of TikTok videos way too many times, and I wish every single shot was longer. The next time someone asks me what I want to do with myself long term, I'm sending them this video. If I reach my elder-years and embody this much style and glamor, I've done life right.

@fashion_grannies on TikTok, an instagram post by @estherkwek.

The Seven is a weekly digest sharing a collection of seven carefully curated stories, recipes, images, movies, essays, books, songs and other content. Thoughtfully contextualised and passed along with consideration, for your mental nourishment.

Every month, I run a book giveaway that is free to enter for all subscribers. This month's book is Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall, discussed in this digest (#17). If you win, you can choose between ebook or paperback with free postage anywhere in the world.

This month, because this text is so important, I will be choosing two winners and giving out two copies of the book. The winners will be chosen at random on the last day of the month (the 31st, Halloween AND KaM's birthday!) and announced in the footer of the first digest of The Seven sent the following month. Good luck!

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I'd like to take a moment to thank my patrons Katie McAllister, Sarah Almahmoud, Hailey Schmidt, Ceri Howes and Hether Scheel Warshauer. Thank you each so much from the bottom of my heart for your monthly support! I'd also like to thank KaM Schoer, and my husband Alex Frankcombe, who dedicate time every week to the review process.

To keep The Seven entirely free of advertising (or any other form of paid promotion) both now and in the future, donations are welcome. These will support the time and energy spent researching, editing and sharing this project. This will also support the monthly book giveaways, and may allow me to further expand these in future. This content will always remain free to all, and contributions from supporters are welcomed and voluntary.